Recent events in the U.S. gambling world

August 22, 2019 John Isaac

Just over a year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed its previous decision to outlaw betting on individual sporting events. This paved the way for individual states to follow suit, and many are seizing the opportunity this year.

Soccer Stadium

America’s Sports Betting Sector is Back in Play © Pixabay

Though the national ban on sports betting has only officially been in effect since 1992, the matter has been a point of contention for quite some time. Most states imposed their own prohibitions on sports wagers based on moral code alone long before the Supreme Court made them illegal on a national level.

One widespread exception to the rule was horse racing. Having been brought to America in the late 1600s and deemed an official sport by the 1800s, this was considered an acceptable gambling outlet.

Looking Back

America’s notorious betting scandals spanning the 1900s soured the general public and professional players on sports wagers. This string is believed to have started with the 1919 World Series. Following what the New York Times called “a disastrous drubbing”, Shoeless Joe Jackson and several other players were found guilty of throwing the game. Mafia intervention throughout the early to mid-1900s didn’t help the situation.

By the early 1990s, MLB and the NFL, NBA, NCAA, NHL had their fill of negative press revolving around gambling. This brought about the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 and the nationwide halt to legal sports betting.

Based on certain events to follow, the PASPA didn’t fully live up to its expectations. Northwestern University’s Dewey Williams and a fellow player served time for fixing basketball games during the team’s 1995 season. Later in in 2007, NBA referee, Tim Donaghy was caught selling inside information to gamblers after accumulating a significant amount of gambling debt himself.

Setting the Wheels in Motion

New Jersey is credited with kickstarting the repeal process more than five years ago in response to officials’ hopes of bringing legalized sports betting to the state’s casinos and horse-racing tracks. Though New Jersey reversed its own statewide ban on sports wagers, the state was met with heavy resistance from professional sports leagues as well as the Federal District Court and Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Gaining Steam

Pennsylvania was the first to follow in New Jersey’s footsteps early last year. Mississippi, West Virginia and Rhode Island were quick to jump on board as well. Rhode Island has gone so far as to legalize online gambling. Only a few weeks ago, several other states signed into effect their own bills regarding sports gambling, including:

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • New Hampshire
  • Tennessee

Sports betting was already legal in Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. These states were grandfathered in at their own request when the Supreme Court enacted the PASPA. Other states have legalization plans in the works. Louisiana, Michigan, Tennessee, North and South Dakota, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Kansas, Arizona and Tennessee are among those to have introduced legislation to move forward last month.

Texas and several other states have proposed legalization, but no decisions had been made on last report. Utah is among the small handful with no plans to jump on the bandwagon.

Bottom Line

After New Jersey faced off against the national ban on sports betting, U.S. Supreme Court officials, in so many words, admitted they’d overstepped their bounds by enacting the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. States now have the power to make their own decisions on the matter. While most have already taken action, a few stands fast in their opposition to make sports wagers legal.

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